Indian Chai drink...how to make a really great tasting chai?
enjoy chai a lot, but probably just as many versions of chai as their are versions of apple pie.
anyone have a simple but great tasting chai to share?
are their other countries that also have a variation of chai drink? I immediately think of horchata drink, but I think that is made of milk.
I don't measure, but for 2 cups tea, I do about 1.25 cups water and .75 cups milk. Pour the water in your pan, and add 1 tsp fennel seed, 2 cardamom (press them between your fingers to crack the shell) and a 1" piece of cinnamon. Let it boil for a few minutes, then add 2 tea bags ( I use PG Tips or Red Label). Boil for another minute and add sugar and milk. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to simmer and let it simmer for another couple minutes. Strain and serve.
The quality of spices is paramount-much of what one sees on store shelves-especially Indian stores-is as old as the hills and considerably dustier.
I like Keyhung from Assam for tea and have recently been experimenting with Grains of Paradise to add a Cardamom/Pepper hint to the masala.
Also- Maple Syrup adds a unique somewhat fuller flavour.
Re: cardamom. I always use green cardamom, bash it with a knife to release the seeds, then mush them finely (very finely) using a mortar and pestle. Nothing worse that whole bits in your chai. Have tried the unbashed ones in cheesecloth, but a few always seem to escape.
My niece worked with a guy from India who took three months training....just to make Chai. No wonder!
I do like to use a milder black tea, Darjeeling or very lightly steeped orange pekoe. I find if you boil the tea it becomes too bitter for my liking. Ditto boiling the spices (love cardamom, cinnamon, clove); keep things at the gentlest simmer.
Oh, and ashamed to say but I really like the International Delight French Vanilla fake-o product in my chai.
Came upon this recipe Kripalu Chai Tea
Makes about 4 cups.
2 teaspoons whole cardamom
2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole stars of anise
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 3-inch slice fresh ginger
4 black tea bags
2 cups milk (or substitute soy milk)
2 cups water
1 to 3 tablespoons sweetener of choice
Combine all spices and tie them in a cheesecloth. Using a rolling pin or other heavy utensil, lightly pound the spices to crush them slightly. Place milk, water, and spices in the cheesecloth in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Bring water back to a boil, turn off, and add black tea. Let steep for 5 minutes, then strain. Add sweet
Technically if you're doing the nut horchata, it's supposed to be made from chufa nuts, but that's very hard to find in the US. Typically I see Mexican rice horchata.
In terms of other countries having masala chai-like drinks, there are plenty of countries that add spices to their beverages. Arabic coffee has cardamom. Thai iced coffee has cardamom, cinnamon and almond. I'm sure there are more examples.
Toast your spices in the pot. I use a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black peppercorns, cardamom and star anise (the latter two being really key in my opinion). Boil your water with the spices and a generous amount of fresh ginger. Steep your tea (either Assam leaves or an Irish breakfast blend) for 3-5 minutes, remove the bags, add your milk and sugar and bring it back to the boil. Let it reduce a bit before straining and serving. You can also try reversing the recipe a bit and scalding the milk with the spices before adding the water and tea.
I like to make it Bangladeshi style using sweetened condensed milk. I make it for guests this way at our dinner parties. (Although I have to make a separate round of tea for the couple of guests who don't take sugar.) The end result is sweet, strong masala tea, what is sometimes called karak chai, which means like a hard stiff shot of very sweet tea. It is the kind of tea you get at truck stops and road side stalls.
I use a very strong brand of black tea. After a lot of experimentation I have found that Barry's Gold Blend lends strength and Newman's Own Royal Tea gives fragrance. I boil water, 3/4 cup of water or so per cup of tea. (I am usually making this is large quantities, at least 5 cups at a time, but it is just as easy for 2 cups of tea.) At this time I also add in a little bit of crushed ginger (1 tsp) and a large pinch of un-husked ground green cardamom. When the water boils, I add in two tea bags per cup of tea, one Newman's and one Barry's. When the water boils, I add in the sweetened condensed milk, plus a little bit of regular milk (whole or 2%). The amount of condensed milk will depend on how sweet you want it. We like to serve it very sweet, so it maybe as much as 1/4 cup per cup of tea. I use the Vietnamese Longevity Brand (3 Old Man) just because I like the taste. Allow this to come to a boil again. Then strain and serve. The condensed milk gives such a great scalded milk flavor.
There are hundreds of different Indian Chai recipes because it really does depend on what flavours you like. The simplest way of making chai is as follows;
1. Boil water in a saucepan...as water begins to boil throw in 1-2 teaspoons of whichever tea leaves you have. Add whatever spices you want to use; popular ones include ginger scrapings, cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon, fennel seeds. These can either be whole or pounded into a masala.
2. Boil the water & tea leaves to brew for 2-3 minutes and then add milk & sugar to taste.
3. Bring back to boil and take off heat as chai froths.
4. Strain into cup & enjoy.
5. Change recipe to taste...
I use Assam CTC normally...the rule is the smaller the tea leaf, the stronger the brew.
Hope you enjoy your chai and let me know if you need any more information.